Skip to content

Good Friday – A Reflection

April 7, 2023
A male cardinal (or Father Cardinal as mom used to say) visiting our feeder on Maundy Thursday

Good Friday… after a brutal night of beatings, harassment, condemnation, and abject hate being poured upon him like some caustic and boiling liquid, Jesus was forced to carry the cross, an instrument of torture and humiliation used by the Empire to silence opposition, to Golgotha where he was nailed to it. His disciples had vanished into the mist, one had betrayed him and one had denied him… only the women and the disciple whom he loved stood at the foot of the cross as he endured the agonizing physical, mental, and spiritual hell of this barbaric means of execution.

My mind and my heart cannot comprehend what he endured at the hands of the Empire and the Religious establishment which was in cahoots with them. What put him on the cross? Fear… the fear of losing power and control by the establishment and Empire. Hatred… the hatred, based upon that fear which drove them to make Jesus a caricature instead of seeing him as one created in God’s image. Greed… the lust for power and control which divided the people into an “us versus them” artificial distinction.

In his book No Man Is an Island Thomas Merton wrote the following words: God does not demand that every man attain to what is theoretically highest and best. It is better to be a good street sweeper than a bad writer, better to be a good bartender than a bad doctor, and the repentant thief who died with Jesus on Calvary was far more perfect than the holy ones who had Him nailed to the cross. — Thomas Merton (No Man Is an Island, p. 67)

The repentant thief was far more perfect than the “holy ones” who had him nailed to the cross… wow! I hear Merton asking us to consider who God calls us to be and what God calls us to do. I believe that God calls us to use our God given lives to live out Jesus’ summary of the Commandments—Love God with our entire being and to love our neighbors as ourselves (yes, even our enemies). That was not what happened when Jesus was tortured and brutally executed on Golgotha.

Further on Merton said that the Religious establishment (my phrasing… he used the word Pharisee) had kept the law to the letter and had spent their lives in the pursuit of a most scrupulous perfection. But they were so intent upon perfection as an abstraction that when God manifested His will and His perfection in a concrete and definite way they had no choice but to reject it. (p. 67)

On this Good Friday I have been contemplating my own life and the past thirty-six years of ministry. How can I be a better Christ-follower and pastor/chaplain/Padre… not a perfect one but rather a better follower of Jesus. Each day is a new opportunity to learn and to grow as I seek to follow the one who cried out my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) As I seek to follow the one who forgave his tormentors and torturers. Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34) As I seek to follow the one who cried out, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23:46)

Good Friday challenges me to be more loving, more forgiving, and more humble. Good Friday challenges me to live out the call of the prophet Micah to Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Micah 6:8 Even if that means, in the words of the late Congressman John Lewis, getting into some “good trouble.” Will you join me on this journey, dear reader? I believe that the world depends on it.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: